* America can call off its search for Lance Armstrong’s stolen bike. I think we’ve found the culprit. [TaxProf Blog]
* For the avoidance of doubt, please see enclosed link (“Enclosure A”). [Courtoons]
* Jim Newell, blogger, thinks that lawyers in D.C. are not losing their jobs fast enough. Jim Newell may soon learn the downside to publishing under his real name. [NBC Washington]
* Residents of Miami high rise condo Buckley Towers won a $20 million verdict against an insurance company for damage sustained during Hurricane Wilma. With that kind of money in the mattresses, next week’s canasta tournament promises to be a nail biter. [South Florida Business Journal]
* Profits per partner are… wait for it… wait for it… DOWN at Simpson Thacher and Paul Hastings. And yet they still make more money than you. ZING. [The Lawyer]
Rumors have been flying into ATL about what’s going down in the ATL all week. We are now able to report that the Atlanta office of Paul Hastings is going through a round of layoffs. Most of our sources agree that approximately ten associates have been let go.
The ten people represent about 15% of Paul Hastings’ associates in Atlanta, according to many tipsters and the latest NALP figures.
The firm furnished ATL with this response:
As in previous years, there is some limited turnover taking place in our Atlanta office as part of our annual performance evaluation process, as well as from attrition.
Some tipsters have expressed concern over the way Paul Hastings is communicating with associates:
Nobody has announced anything, and this is all being done in total silence from the PH partners and management…
The layoffs have not surprised any of the tipsters we talked with. Many report that work is slow, bordering on non-existent, in the Atlanta office.
If this is happening in Atlanta, you have to wonder if there are stealth layoffs happening in New York or California. If you have any information, send it in to email@example.com.
Finally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: time to announce Above the Law’s top two stories for 2008, on the gossip front. We’ve also been recapping the top stories on the business side of the fence, but stories about the business of law are available from many other outlets. Juicy law firm gossip is harder to come by.
Our two leading gossip stories were broken here at ATL. They were subsequently picked up by mainstream media outlets, but we covered them first.
In connection with on-campus interviewing season, we’re giving you a chance to assess the firms that made this year’s Vault 100 list of most prestigious law firms. The previous open threads listed firms in groups of five, but to up the pace, we’ll list them by ten from here on out. Here’s the next group, with prestige scores in parentheses:
We note Magic Circle firm Linklaters making a big leap from the high 30s in the 2008 list to #26 this year — perhaps because its “notable perks” include group retreats to Europe, a drinks trolley, and an on-site doctor and dentist.
Compare. Contrast. Discuss. Thanks. Earlier:Vault 100 Open Threads – 2009
If you’re tired of reading about Shinyung Oh, the former Paul Hastings associate who sent a now-famous farewell email, fear not. The story is on its last legs.
We just wanted to tie up a loose end. Earlier this week, we wondered about whether she was still at Paul Hastings. Here’s the answer, courtesy of Shinyung Oh herself:
I’m no longer with Paul Hastings. Because I didn’t sign the release, my termination was effective as of sometime last week. If I had signed the release, I would have technically stayed on (on an inactive basis) until the end of July.
We wish Shinyung the best of luck in her future endeavors.
We also contacted the firm for comment; they had none. (An aside: Contrary to what some folks apparently think, we welcome hearing from the law firms that we write about. We often reach out to them for comment, especially on sensitive items, but they should also feel free to contact us sua sponte.)
One final thing. In the comments on our various Paul Hastings posts, there was occasionally a “piling on” quality, with lots of commenters lambasting PH (and some attacking Shinyung Oh as well).
But the comments are not necessarily representative of the ATL readership at large. Please take our two quick polls. Feel free to take whatever considerations you want into account when casting your vote (i.e., the polls aren’t based solely on the recent controversy).
This is, like, WOW. We don’t quite know what to say.
This departure memo, sent by an associate leaving the San Francisco office of Paul Hastings, is extraordinary. It also confirms the rumors — which have swirled about for quite some time, but without confirmation until now — of associate layoffs at PH.
We’re reaching out for comment to the associate in question and to Paul Hastings. But we wanted to put this up ASAP, to break the story first.
Farewell email below (with a handful of minor typos corrected). “Transition Agreement and General Release,” after the jump.
Sent: Monday, May 05, 2008 10:14 AM
Subject: My departure
The circumstances surrounding my departure from Paul Hastings have been deeply disappointing. It is one thing to ignore an email sent as a colleague is waiting to have her uterus scraped after a miscarriage, but it is wholly another level of heartlessness to lay her off six days after that. [Partner X] is the only one who expressed any sympathy after my miscarriage, and I am grateful to him for that.
A business is a business, but it takes very little to convey some level of humanity to carry out even the most difficult business decisions. We are human beings first before we are partners or associates. Had you simply explained that the department is unable to sustain the number of associates in the office, I would have completely understood. Had you explained that the office had been directed to reduce the number of associates and I was chosen because of my high billable rate and low billable hours, I would have appreciated such directness, even though the consequences of blindly raising billable rates to an unsustainable degree is plainly predictable. What I do not understand is the attempt to blame the associate for not bringing in the business that should have been brought in by each of you and to hide your personal failures by attempting to tarnish my excellent performance record and looking to undermine my sense of self esteem.
The last few months have been surreal, at best. Just last year, I had celebrated my engagement and marriage with many of you. In fact, during the engagement party, the head of the department took my then-fiancée aside to express to him what a great attorney I am and what a great future I faced. Indeed, less than a week before this year’s bizarre performance review, I was again told by the same partner that my work is great and that the slow business in no way reflected on my performance. A week later, I was given a mediocre performance review and told that I should worry about whether I have a future at Paul Hastings. When I asked for specific examples of my alleged deficiencies, I received no response. When I asked for an explanation as to why I had been downgraded in so many performance categories when I received absolutely no criticism throughout the year and my prior year’s review was stellar, I was told that my prior year’s performance assessment may have been “over-inflated.” What a startling response.
After my miscarriage, I had discussed my concern with several associates that Paul Hastings may use that opportunity to lay me off quickly before I have a chance to get pregnant again. Those associates thought it unfathomable that a firm would be so callous and assured me that Paul Hastings isn’t that kind of a place. What a lesson this has been for them – and for me. I would not have anticipated that a partner would tell me one thing and completely renege on his words a week later. I would not have anticipated that a female partner (whom I had looked to as a role model) with children of her own would sit stone faced as I broke into tears just days after my miscarriage. Even a few words of sympathy or concern would have made a world of difference. What kind of people squander human relationships so easily?
If this response seems particularly emotional, perhaps an associate’s emotional vulnerability after a recent miscarriage is a factor you should consider the next time you fire or lay someone off. It shows startlingly poor judgment and management skills — and cowardice — on your parts. If you should ever have the misfortune of suddenly losing something or someone precious to you, I hope you don’t find similar heartlessness as I have.
As for your request for a release, non-disclosure, and non-disparagement agreement in return for three months’ pay, I reject it. Unlike you, I am not just a paid mouthpiece with no independent judgment. I will decide how and to whom to communicate how you have treated me. I find it ironic that you would try to buy the right not to be disparaged after behaving as you have. Your actions speak volumes, and you don’t need much help from me in damaging your reputation.
I attach the proposed release for any associate who may be interested in reviewing its details.
And that’s all she wrote. The release that Paul Hastings wanted this associate to sign, after the jump.
Update (5:10 PM): We have heard back from the associate in question, who had no additional comment.
Update (8:20 PM): Previously posted in the comments, but now we can bring it up to the main page. Here is Paul Hastings’s statement, from Eileen King, Global Director of Public Relations:
“We disagree with the person’s description of what occurred, but unfortunately we don’t comment on internal employment matters.”
Update (5/6/08): Blog reactions to this story are collected here. Additional discussion of pregnancy discrimination cases appears here. Lawyer layoffs at Paul Hastings are covered here.
Further Update (5/9/08): The author of the email, Shinyung Oh, has gone public and given an interview. See here.
Overall, Latham & Watkins dominated the field, pulling in almost one fifth of all votes. Latham was the most popular choice among voters in L.A., the Bay Area, and Washington, DC, and was particularly favored by tax lawyers and litigators.
Runner-up Wachtell was actually the top choice of respondents in New York, narrowly besting Davis Polk and Latham. It was also, by far, the most popular pick among M&A lawyers, with roughly 30% of their vote.
Kirkland placed third overall, but was the top choice of Chicago respondents and patent lawyers, with almost twice as many votes as the next most popular firm in Chicago (Latham) and almost as many patent votes as the next two firms combined (Latham and Quinn).
Williams & Connolly, Ropes & Gray, and Davis Polk tied for fourth, with Ropes & Gray dominating the Boston vote, Williams & Connolly pwning DC (and gaining the second highest vote from litigators after Latham), and Davis Polk rocking the investment management scene (with Ropes & Gray running second best in that field).
Paul Hastings was the clear winner among labor & employment attorneys, winning almost 70% of the vote, and was also the most popular choice among real estate attorneys and lawyers in Atlanta.
On the Magic Circle front, Linklaters proved more popular than Allen & Overy, and was actually the most popular choice among securities lawyers. Allen & Overy was the most popular choice among structured finance attorneys.
This month’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, focused on which firm you would choose if you could go anywhere, was dominated by Latham & Watkins and Wachtell Lipton. But several firms were close behind.
* Respondents had several reasons to applaud Latham: “Prestige”, “Friends there are happy”, “Awesome firm, awesome people”, “They rock”, “Prestige, substantive work, great litigation practice”, and “Top notch clients and matters; kick ass bonuses; selective hiring in a good way (need good grades plus a good; personality); Vault top 10 without the stuffiness of originating on the east coast; good growth but no risk of Brobecking (great management + tons of funds)…..should I go on?” Or, as one respondent summed it up: “ass kickers.”
* At Wachtell, with 2007 profits per partner of $4.48 million, money played a key factor in respondents’ enthusiasm for the firm: “100% bonus”, “money”, “it’s all about the cash”, “I want the compensation!”, “money honey” and, of course, “CASH.”
* “Money” was also a big plus for Cravath (even though their profits per partner were a mere $3.3 million). Voters also noted “Prestige, training, can go anywhere else afterwards.”
* “Prestige” and “Exit opportunities” also won several votes for Skadden, who also had more than $2 billion in revenues last year. (Their SideBar program is pretty cool, too.)
* “Bonuses and work” were praised at Kirkland & Ellis, as was stability: “They’re well positioned for the credit crunch and M&A downturn. And the pay’s better, of course.”
* Sullivan & Cromwell was also coveted for “good work, and $$$$” as well as “reputation.” With profits per partner of $3.13 million, that “$$$$” is appealing at multiple levels.
* Paul Hastings surged in popularity as respondents complemented their labor & employment practice and their compensation structures in Atlanta and Chicago.
* In an incendiary match-up, Davis Polk was heralded as “da bomb”, while Boston heavyweight Ropes & Gray was declared “the bomb.”
* Among the Magic Circle firms, Allen & Overy supporters declared “Great offices, european attitude” while Linklaters was called “the best globally, both in equity and debt.”
* Debevoise won several votes for its combination of “prestige and culture”.
* Litigators were torn between Quinn Emanuel, where “hard core litigators with a great reputation” create an atmosphere where “[p]ersonality, quirkiness, and fun seem prevalent,” and Williams & Connolly, as “the best litigatio[n] shop. Period.”
So of these fourteen juggernauts of practice, prestige, and sweet, sweet profits, who would you most like to work for?
Cast your vote in today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, after the jump.
Yes, it’s March already. Guess what that means? No, we’re not talking about March Madness. We’re thinking of… bonus news from Paul Hastings!
A tipster in a non-New York office summarizes:
It looks like we matched Latham’s base levels. I’ve also been told that NYC matched the special bonuses there.
Better late than never!
We got our grubby paws on the memo sent to associates in California, Chicago, and Washington, DC. Here’s the money (hehe) quote:
This year’s associate bonus pool of $23.3 million is the largest in Firm history – a 20% increase over last year’s pool – with approximately 81% of participating associates receiving a bonus. Additionally, bonus awards for your offices are higher than last year at virtually all levels.
Performance expectations are steep, thus receipt of a bonus is a significant achievement. Top level bonuses are the exception and are awarded to associates distinguishing themselves by consistently demonstrating exceptional performance that far surpasses the Firm’s standards. Approximately 10% of all bonus recipients distinguished themselves at this level and were awarded the top bonus.
We haven’t seen memos for other PH offices. A source in Atlanta, though, claims that the firm cut ATL bonuses by 50 percent. Perhaps that’s their way of balancing out the recent pay raise.
We also haven’t seen the New York numbers. But at a meeting “a while back,” Barry Brooks, the firm’s New York managing partner, effectively told associates they’d match shops like Latham and Gibson.
The full memo for California / Chicago / D.C. — plus additional discussion about Paul Hastings, including complaints about the timing of their class-year raises and bonus payments — after the jump.
As we reported earlier this week, the Atlanta office of Paul Hastings has adopted a new pay scale, with a starting salary of $160,000.
The Fulton County Daily Report picks up the news today. It’s not new, since it was announced on Wednesday. But the article, by Meredith Hobbs, has a nice round-up of where things stand in the Atlanta market, post-Paul Hastings:
Like most of their competitors, Paul Hastings paid first-years $130,000 in 2007, the rate established by last spring’s round of pay raises. The firm had delayed unveiling its response to the increase to $145,000 triggered by Alston & Bird in August (with smaller raises up the classes) until now.
Paul Hastings’ new pay scale goes from $160,000 for first-years — the current market rate for first-years in more expensive cities such as Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York — to $215,000 for seventh-years.
By comparison, King & Spalding announced in October a 2008 scale starting at $145,000 for first-years and going to $195,000 for seventh-years. At that time, King & Spalding established a richer bonus system, which upped pay for first-years receiving bonuses to $152,500, and star seven-years to as high as $250,000.
Paul Hastings does not calculate bonuses until after the end of its fiscal year, so associate bonuses correlating to 2008 compensation will not be determined until the end of February 2009, said Philip J. Marzetti, the firm’s Atlanta managing partner.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
Watch to find out what some of our subscribers received in their May box!
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
The traditional job application and interview process can be impersonal, and applicants often struggle to present themselves as more than just the sum of their GPAs, alma maters, and previous work history. ATL has partnered with ViewYou to help job seekers overcome this challenge. ViewYou NOW Profiles offer a unique way for job seekers to make a personal, memorable connection with prospective employers: introduction videos. These videos allow job candidates to display their personalities, interpersonal skills, and professional interests, creating an eDossier to brand themselves to potential employers all over the world. Check it out today!